Google bans SafeGraph, an app that sold android users’ data

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Google has prohibited a location data collecting app, SafeGraph from its Play Store that reportedly sold Android users location data for Covid mapping and other purposes.

SafeGraph may be a company that has reportedly sold data sets to developers that had to submerge its code in their apps. Seemingly, it seems this company has sold Android user’s location data. Google has instructed app developers to get rid of the SafeGraph code from their apps. If they dim to do so within the duration of 7-days since Google has informed them, they would face enforcement on the Google Play Store (essentially, removal from the Play Store).

The motherboard has terminated one such app was made by the US Centers for Disease Control, which gathered data in response to the pandemic. What SafeGraph reportedly did was sell its software development kit to app developers. This SDK would then keep track of the physical location of users, which SafeGraph would repackage then sell to third parties.

The news comes as big tech firms are facing more criticism and scrutiny from lawmakers over access to user data. And not just that: Google has also sustained negative attention to how it treats location data on its apps, not only third-party ones.

For instance, Google was found to track your location on Android even when you turn off Location History in 2018. This detection resulted during a lawsuit for consumer fraud by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. The lawsuit affirms that Google illegally kept track of Android users’ location without their approval; albeit users had disabled location tracking features. In line with the lawsuit, Google kept location tracking continuous within the background and only stopped it when users disabled system-level tracking.

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